April Planning

6-14-1 in the Spring, that's how the "meaningless" Spring Training reads to date.

The Mets teams that have won championships have been moderately successful in Spring Training -- 14-10 in 1969, 11-13 in 1973, 13-13 in 1986, 19-10 in 1988, 15-16 in 1999, 14-12 in 2000 and 16-14-1 last year. Their record in 1994 was 21-13. (that's nicked off the mlb site, not my own research, ha!) - Pernt is, there is no history for the Mets to take that kind of losing record from Spring Training and turn it into NL East magic.

Spring Training Come Hither Consolation Prize...

No one is pushing the panic button and of course even if they were, the panic button is broken this time of year. Willie isn't showing his sweat. "We'll tighten things up a little bit," he says as though the ship is steady and on course. "We've got another 10 days to go, and we'll tighten up a little bit. We will."

Well, tighten up as in not so many mistakes or tighten up as in jesus gawd the pressure of repeating the NL East Champs is going to snap us like twigs in the mouth of a panda bear?

If the starting pitching continues to worry it might not be suprising to see Brother Omar finally make the move for an established starting pitcher that we've been waiting for all winter, especially Lastings Milledge's value on the upswing again. How would you feel if he were able to score some one on the Mark Buehrle scale of starting pitching just before the season begins? (mebbe not too good considering his Spring to date; 3 starts and an 11.00 ERA.)

Read via two papers yesterday that Billy Wagner said,
"The Phillies have the best team, but there's a lot of pressure playing in Philly. It's just a tough environment. Nothing is close. That team's biggest challenge will be playing at home. Their personnel is great, but it's a tough city to play in. They can't get off to a bad start."
Well, don't forget Billy, even though you don't play FOR them any more, you're still going to have to go there and face them. Is that why you've developed that tempting new the split-finger changeup?

Of course, he isn't the one to worry. That's down to Phillies' 39 year old loser closer by default, Tom Gordon. To bring you up to speed, Gordon has appeared only thrice this Spring with injury worries plaguing him. He went up to Philly with shoulder whingeing last week and in his return hegave up a ninth-inning triple to B.J. Upton that scored Ben Zobrist and gave Tampa Bay a 5-4 win at Bright House Networks Field yesterday in a split-squad game for both teams.

So if you think we've got worries, try and fathom Gordon as your team's closer.

In any event, thinking about fast and slow starts, I took a look at what April has to offer for the NL East top three:

The Mets, as we know open at St Louis. Apropos of course, against the reigning World Champs. (Jesus, the whole post-NLCS is such a blur I wonder if the Cards really did win the World Series until I read that the Tigers were in it too - and the natural thought that follies is wow, had Beltran just stuck his bat out there across the plate just that once...)

The Phillies have to open against the Braves, but it's at home.

Thereafter, the Mets go to Atlanta and the Phillies travel to Florida to beat up on the Marlins. So far, the advantage is distinctly in the Phillies' favour.

That is followed by the Mets playing host to those Phillies and the Braves hosting the Nats. So in the first trio of series' all three top teams will face each other and each will have at least one of those matchups at home. Only the Mets have no powderpuff NL East team to beat up in between.

The crazy part is, right after the Mets host the Phillies, the Phillies then host the Mets for a series of their own. In the meantime, the Braves will be playing the Nats again, this time in DC.

Beginning on 18th April, the Mets move from Philly, to Florida but the Phillies get to travel to DC to beat up on the Nats and the Braves will be hosting the Cubs.

Moving right along with no breather in sight, the Mets then host the Braves whilst the Phillies will be at Cincinnati (and the Reds might be a tougher nut to crack than in years past but this doesn't make up for the kind of interdivision fratricide prescribed for the Mets this April.)

But then the schedule makers give us a wee break.

The Mets will host the Rockies beginning 24th April, the Phillies get to host the Gnats and the Braves travel to Florida for the Marlins. It's almost like the NL East leaders get an off week.

And how does April close, you ask? Well, finally another break for the Mets, traveling to DC against the Gnats but by then perhaps the damage will already perhaps be irrevocable. The Phillies will host the Marlins and the Braves travel to Colorado to face the Rockies.

The April schedule appears slightly weighted against the Mets but you might expect that considering they are the reigning division Champs. Nothing to cry about and the back to back home and away series with the Phillies will be a good look at where both teams might be headed this season.

So far Willie's Mets have done a runner the first season (oh, forgotten that losing streak to open the season already?) and took off running the second. It might just be somewhere in between this time around. Not bad enough for the panic button but not easy enough, as it was last season to stand there by the end of April kicking competition off the top of the hill.


sanchez said...

I don't think it matters how the Phillies start this season - did you read about them talking all that smack already about being the favorites? They are going to choke like they do every year. Phuck the Phillies!

Jaap said...

I see you are almost in mid season Phillies-hating form already, sanchez. Did you spend the winter spitting on Chase Utley holograms?

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